“Crazy Rich Asians” author Kevin Kwan didn’t have to look far for role models when he decided to be a writer. His aunt was a journalist in his native Singapore at The Singapore Monitor.
“At the time, it was a new newspaper. I remember when the first issue came out, there was so much excitement when she brought it home and seeing her byline and her photograph,” Kwan says from his home in Los Angeles. “I am very thankful that I came from a highly creative family where the arts and being creative was appreciated. My mother is a pianist, and has taught for more than 50 years. She’s 81 now. During the pandemic, she learned how to teach on FaceTime.”
I spoke to Kwan ahead of his Asian Hall of Fame conversation taking place Thursday with his cousin, “Flower Drum Song” star and Golden Globe winner Nancy Kwan, and actor Julia Nickson.
Even in the short time Kwan has been in Hollywood, he says the industry appears to be embracing more AAPI representation and storytelling. “I think ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ was really a turning point. Not in any way trying to pat myself on the back at all, but that was a movement. It was something that happened because of so many amazing people — Jon Chu, Nina Jacobson and Warner Bros. and all the amazing actors,” he says. “There so much more interest in receptivity now toward projects that really highlight more diverse stories. I’ve truly been a beneficiary of that. There’s interest in stuff that I do.”
Sony and SK Global are currently developing the film adaptation of his latest novel “Sex & Vanity.” And, of course, there are two more “Crazy Rich Asians” films to be made. “They’re deep in development,” he says of the “CRA” movies. “I think because of the success of the movie we really really wanted to get the sequel right. I think the goal is like, ‘This needs to be ‘The Godfather 2.” It needs to be as good, if not better than the first.”
In other words, the pressure is on. “We are one of those unicorn movies so there will be a lot of pressure to not disappoint the fans and to perform really well,” Kwan says. “I can’t wait till there are so many more movies like this that the pressure will be off us.”
For more on the Asian Hall of Fame conversation, go to asianhalloffame.org.